Civil rights attorneys take aim at single-family zoning using Woodbridge as test case

Attorneys from the Open Communities Alliance, joined by law students and professors at a fair housing development clinic at Yale Law School, are asking Woodbridge’s Planning and Zoning Commission to approve their application to build a four-unit house on a 1.5 acre lot that is zoned for a single-family home – and, more importantly, to completely overhaul local zoning regulations to allow the town’s “fair share” of affordable housing to be built. The application is different from a typical zoning application in that it focuses almost entirely on the need for a systemic overhaul of the town’s “exclusionary” zoning regulations, as opposed to seeking approval to break ground on a single project.

If the town rejects the group’s application, the attorneys are prepared to appeal the decision in court. The case has potential statewide implications for other Connecticut towns with similar zoning restrictions if the courts ultimately determine Woodbridge’s regulations have led to discriminatory housing practices.

“The zoning regulations enact a town-wide ban on multi-family housing, shutting the doors of their privileged community to many who would benefit from access to it,” the application says. “The town of Woodbridge is segregated. It has used its own zoning regime to segregate itself … Exclusionary zoning practices are perhaps as insidious as outright racial segregation because they exclude substantial numbers of people of color but do so while pretending to be race neutral.” Read more.

  • Open Communities Alliance
  • 75 Charter Oak Avenue
  • Suite 1-200
  • Hartford, CT 06106
  • Phone: 860-610-6040